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Concept: Bifidobacterium


Historically, bifidobacteria were the dominant intestinal bacteria in breastfed infants. Still abundant in infants in developing nations, levels of intestinal bifidobacteria are low among infants in developed nations. Recent studies have described an intimate relationship between human milk and a specific subspecies of Bifidobacterium, B. longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), yet supplementation of breastfed, healthy, term infants with this organism, has not been reported. The IMPRINT Study, a Phase I clinical trial, was initiated to determine the safety and tolerability of supplementing breastfed infants with B. infantis (EVC001).

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Gut flora, Species, Developed country, Interpersonal relationship, Developing country, Bifidobacterium


Background:This pilot study investigates the efficacy of a probiotic consortium (Lab4) in combination with vitamin C on the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool facilities.Subjects/methods:In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot study with children aged 3-6 years, 57 received 1.25 × 10(10) colony-forming units of Lactobacillus acidophilus CUL21 (NCIMB 30156), Lactobacillus acidophilus CUL60 (NCIMB 30157), Bifidobacterium bifidum CUL20 (NCIMB 30153) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CUL34 (NCIMB 30172) plus 50 mg vitamin C or a placebo daily for 6 months.Results:Significant reductions in the incidence rate of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI; 33%, P=0.002), the number of days with URTI symptoms (mean difference: -21.0, 95% confidence interval (CI):-35.9, -6.0, P=0.006) and the incidence rate of absence from preschool (30%, P=0.007) were observed in the active group compared with the placebo. The number of days of use of antibiotics, painkillers, cough medicine or nasal sprays was lower in the active group and reached significance for use of cough medicine (mean difference: -6.6, 95% CI: -12.9, -0.3, P=0.040). No significant differences were observed in the incidence rate ratio or duration of lower respiratory tract infection or in the levels of plasma cytokines, salivary immunoglobulin A or urinary metabolites.Conclusions:Supplementation with a probiotic/vitamin C combination may be beneficial in the prevention and management of URTIs.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 10 September 2014; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.174.

Concepts: Immune system, Respiratory system, Upper respiratory tract, Probiotic, Upper respiratory tract infection, Lower respiratory tract, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium


Acute psychological stress is positively associated with a cold/flu. The present randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effect of three potentially probiotic bacteria on the proportion of healthy days over a 6-week period in academically stressed undergraduate students (n 581) who received Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, Bifidobacterium longum ssp. infantis R0033, Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 or placebo. On each day, participants recorded the intensity (scale: 0 = not experiencing to 3 = very intense) for nine cold/flu symptoms, and a sum of symptom intensity >6 was designated as a day of cold/flu. B. bifidum resulted in a greater proportion of healthy days than placebo (P≤ 0·05). The percentage of participants reporting ≥ 1 d of cold/flu during the 6-week intervention period was significantly lower with B. bifidum than with placebo (P< 0·05). There were no effects of B. infantis or L. helveticus compared with placebo on either outcome. A predictive model accounted for influential characteristics and their interactions on daily reporting of cold/flu episodes. The proportion of participants reporting a cold on any given day was lower at weeks 2 and 3 with B. bifidum and B. infantis than with placebo for the average level of stress and the most commonly reported number of hours of sleep. Daily intake of bifidobacteria provides benefit related to cold/flu outcomes during acute stress.

Concepts: Gut flora, Summation, Stress, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus helveticus


Probiotics, prebiotics and combinations thereof, i.e. synbiotics, have been reported to modulate gut microbiota of humans. In the present study effects of a novel synbiotic on the composition and metabolic activity of human gut microbiota were investigated. Healthy volunteers (n =18) were enrolled in a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study and received synbiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (10(9) CFU) and cellobiose (5g)) or placebo daily for three weeks. Fecal samples were collected and lactobacilli numbers were quantified by qPCR. Furthermore, 454 tag encoded amplicon pyrosequencing was used to monitor the effect of synbiotic on the composition of the microbiota. The synbiotic increased levels of Lactobacillus spp. and relative abundances of the genera Bifidobacterium, Collinsella and Eubacterium while the genus Dialister was decreased (p < 0.05). No other effects were found on microbiota composition. Remarkably, however the synbiotic increased concentrations of branched-chain fatty acids, measured by gas chromatography, while short-chain fatty acids were not affected. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Microbiology, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium


Bifidobacteria are considered to be one of the most important beneficial intestinal bacteria for infants, contributing to the priming of the mucosal immune system. These microbes can also be detected in mother’s milk, suggesting a potential role of human milk in the colonisation of infant’s gut. However, little is known about the timing of bacteria appearance in human milk, and whether human milk is the first source of inoculation. Here, we investigated whether specific strains are shared sustainably between maternal milk and infant’s gut. Faecal samples and human milk were collected from 102 healthy mother-infant pairs (infant’s faeces: meconium, 7, 30 days of age; mother’s milk: once before delivery, colostrum, 7, 30 days after delivery). Bifidobacterial strains were isolated from these samples, and were discriminated by means of multilocus sequencing typing. No bifidobacteria were detected from human milk collected before delivery, or colostrum. Strains were isolated only from human milk samples obtained 7 days after birth or later. On the other hand, bifidobacterial strains were obtained from infant’s faeces throughout the study period, sometimes as early as the first day of life (meconium). We have found that bifidobacterial species belonging to Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum could be identified as monophyletic between infant’s faeces and their mother’s milk. These strains were confirmed to be sustainably shared between maternal milk and infant’s gut. Moreover, monophyletic strains were isolated at the same time point or earlier from infant’s faeces than from human milk, and none were isolated earlier from human milk than from infant’s faeces. Although it remains unclear whether human milk is the first source of microbes for infants, our results confirm that human milk is a reservoir of bifidobacteria, and specific strains are shared between infant’s intestine and human milk during breastfeeding.

Concepts: Immune system, Infant, Gut flora, Milk, Breastfeeding, Feces, Breast milk, Bifidobacterium


Diet strongly affects gut microbiota composition, and gut bacteria can influence the colonic mucus layer, a physical barrier that separates trillions of gut bacteria from the host. However, the interplay between a Western style diet (WSD), gut microbiota composition, and the intestinal mucus layer is less clear. Here we show that mice fed a WSD have an altered colonic microbiota composition that causes increased penetrability and a reduced growth rate of the inner mucus layer. Both barrier defects can be prevented by transplanting microbiota from chow-fed mice. In addition, we found that administration of Bifidobacterium longum was sufficient to restore mucus growth, whereas administration of the fiber inulin prevented increased mucus penetrability in WSD-fed mice. We hypothesize that the presence of distinct bacteria is crucial for proper mucus function. If confirmed in humans, these findings may help to better understand diseases with an affected mucus layer, such as ulcerative colitis.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Escherichia coli, Ulcerative colitis, Colon, Flatulence, Mucus, Bifidobacterium


The role of the intestinal microbiota as a regulator of autoimmune diabetes in animal models is well-established, but data on human type 1 diabetes are tentative and based on studies including only a few study subjects. To exclude secondary effects of diabetes and HLA risk genotype on gut microbiota, we compared the intestinal microbiota composition in children with at least two diabetes-associated autoantibodies (n = 18) with autoantibody-negative children matched for age, sex, early feeding history, and HLA risk genotype using pyrosequencing. Principal component analysis indicated that a low abundance of lactate-producing and butyrate-producing species was associated with β-cell autoimmunity. In addition, a dearth of the two most dominant Bifidobacterium species, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum, and an increased abundance of the Bacteroides genus were observed in the children with β-cell autoimmunity. We did not find increased fecal calprotectin or IgA as marker of inflammation in children with β-cell autoimmunity. Functional studies related to the observed alterations in the gut microbiome are warranted because the low abundance of bifidobacteria and butyrate-producing species could adversely affect the intestinal epithelial barrier function and inflammation, whereas the apparent importance of the Bacteroides genus in development of type 1 diabetes is insufficiently understood.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Gut flora, Biology, Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Flatulence, Bifidobacterium


Accumulating evidence indicates interactions between human milk composition, particularly sugars (human milk oligosaccharides or HMO), the gut microbiota of human infants, and behavioral effects. Some HMO secreted in human milk are unable to be endogenously digested by the human infant but are able to be metabolized by certain species of gut microbiota, including Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), a species sensitive to host stress (Bailey & Coe, 2004). Exposure to gut bacteria like B. infantisduring critical neurodevelopment windows in early life appears to have behavioral consequences; however, environmental, physical, and social stress during this period can also have behavioral and microbial consequences. While rodent models are a useful method for determining causal relationships between HMO, gut microbiota, and behavior, murine studies of gut microbiota usually employ oral gavage, a technique stressful to the mouse. Our aim was to develop a less-invasive technique for HMO administration to remove the potential confound of gavage stress. Under the hypothesis that stress affects gut microbiota, particularly B. infantis, we predicted the pups receiving a prebiotic solution in a less-invasive manner would have the highest amount of Bifidobacteria in their gut.

Concepts: Infant, Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Milk, Mammal, Mouse, Bifidobacterium


Evidence on the clinical effectiveness of probiotics in the prevention of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants is conflicting and cohort studies lacked adjustment for time trend and feeding type. This study investigated the association between the introduction of routine probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum; Infloran(®)) on the primary outcome ‘NEC or death’. Preterm infants (gestational age <32 weeks or birth weight <1500 gram) admitted before (Jan 2008-Sep 2012; n = 1288) and after (Oct 2012-Dec 2014; n = 673) introduction of probiotics were compared. Interrupted time series logistic regression models were adjusted for confounders, effect modification by feeding type, seasonality and underlying temporal trends. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses showed no difference in 'NEC or death' between the two periods. The overall incidence of NEC declined from 7.8% to 5.1% (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.42-0.93, p = 0.02), which was not statistically significant in the adjusted models. Introduction of probiotics was associated with a reduced adjusted odds for 'NEC or sepsis or death' in exclusively breastmilk-fed infants (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.21-0.93, p = 0.03) only. We conclude that introduction of probiotics was not associated with a reduction in 'NEC or death' and that type of feeding seems to modify the effects of probiotics.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Clinical trial, Statistics, Effect, Obstetrics, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium


The gut microbiota has been established as an important player influencing many aspects of human physiology. Breast milk, the first diet for an infant, contains human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) that shape the infant’s gut microbiota by selectively stimulating the growth of specific bacteria, especially bifidobacteria. In addition to their bifidogenic activity, the ability of HMO to modulate immune function and the gut barrier makes them prime candidates to restore a beneficial microbiota in dysbiotic adults and provide health benefits. We conducted a parallel, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, HMO-supplementation study in 100 healthy, adult volunteers, consuming chemically produced 2'-O-fucosyllactose (2'FL) and/or lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT) at various daily doses and mixes or placebo for 2 weeks. All participants completed the study without premature discontinuation. Supplementation of 2'FL and LNnT at daily doses up to 20 g was shown to be safe and well tolerated, as assessed using the gastrointestinal symptoms rating scale. 16S rRNA sequencing analysis showed that HMO supplementation specifically modified the adult gut microbiota with the primary impact being substantial increases in relative abundance of Actinobacteria and Bifidobacterium in particular and a reduction in relative abundance of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. This study provides the first set of data on safety, tolerance and impact of HMO on the adult gut microbiota. Collectively, the results from this study show that supplementing the diet with HMO is a valuable strategy to shape the human gut microbiota and specifically promote the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Milk, Breast milk, Firmicutes, Bifidobacterium